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Passive smoking link to dementia
Date:2/13/2009

Researchers from the Peninsula Medical School, the University of Cambridge and the University of Michigan have published the results of the first large-scale study to indicate that second-hand smoke exposure could lead to dementia and other neurological problems.

The results will be published by the BMJ online on Friday 13th February 2009.

Research has already identified possible links between active smoking and cognitive impairment, and previous findings have suggested exposure to second-hand smoke is linked to poor cognitive performance in children and adolescents. However, this is the first study of its kind to link second-hand smoke exposure to cognitive impairment in adult non-smokers.

The research team examined saliva samples from almost 5000 non-smoking adults over the age of 50, using data from the 1998, 1999 and 2001 waves of the Health Survey and England. The participants subsequently took part in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

The saliva samples were tested for cotinine, a product of nicotine that remains in the saliva for about 25 hours after exposure to second-hand smoke. Those who took part in the study also provided a detailed smoking history, and those who had never smoked, or who were previous smokers, were assessed separately.

Established neuropsychological tests were used to assess brain function and cognitive impairment. These focused on memory function, numeracy and verbal fluency. The test results were added together to provide a global score for cognitive function. Those whose scores were in the lowest 10 per cent were identified as suffering from cognitive impairment.

The researchers believe that the link between second-hand smoke and cognitive impairment could be explained by the fact that heart disease increases the risk of developing dementia, and that exposure to second-hand smoke is known to cause heart disease.

Dr. Iain Lang from the Peninsula Medical
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Contact: Andrew Gould
andrew.gould@pms.ac.uk
44-139-268-6107
The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry
Source:Eurekalert

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